Stop the Drain - Stop Teaching Students to Work for Others

Save our schools and communities. Grow our economy. What are we to do?

The best way to accelerate our job creation rate is to embrace and support policies in all levels of the political spectrum that encourage entrepreneurs. We believe rural schools and communities can be saved and economies can grow by teaching young people they don’t have to work for a big company or for other people. Teach students that owning their own business is a great win-win strategy to grow the local economy! 

This isn't just a school’s issue. For rural towns and cities, it's an issue of community survival.

Our country is really run and dominated by small- and medium-sized businesses. Ninety-eight percent of your community’s new jobs are created by businesses you see on your Main Street, home- based businesses that are a part of your town’s hidden economy, and all your existing businesses you count on to meet your needs. Only 2% of all new jobs are created by companies recruited to your community.

For more than 30 years, I have worked with communities on many different levels, much of that time in very rural areas. I've watched communities spend many thousands of dollars to “steal” companies from other towns, creating a neutral net gain of jobs in the economy. Many of those companies, after they have used up their tax advantages from relocating, will look elsewhere to gain more tax advantages and their loyalty to that community ends as soon as they receive a better deal.

Our focus is teaching our young people from a very early age that an alternative of working for someone else is creating your own business and products.

The bottom line is that if we really want to make a difference in our economy and grow our towns, we should focus on entrepreneurship in our schools. 

Encourage people to dream and help talented individuals start companies that create business models that grow small-, medium-, big-sized, sustainable organizations. We need to encourage students to create local jobs by owning local businesses. And support them to grow regionally and globally.

We need entrepreneurship schools that give students alternative curriculum that teaches the components of business planning and use their youthful creativity to design the future.

Create curriculum that engages youth to develop as local leaders, energizes them through entrepreneurship and business growth, and teaches the importance of giving back through local charitable giving.

 We have a culture of taking inventions to market,. That takes an entrepreneur.

It appears to me that we have been losing that part of our creative business cycle. Many community businesses are third-generation owners, passed down in families, leading to many of our communities and leaders losing their entrepreneurial culture, innovation, and drive.

Entrepreneurs are those who usually start businesses, but another benefit of teaching entrepreneurship in school is teaching the concept of “intrapreneurship.” Intrapreneurs work inside companies and are the brains and energy behind creating customers.

An entrepreneur/intrapreneur will create business models that will identify more customers and create innovative ways to address commercial and social concerns.

Many of our towns are losing population. Schools are losing enrollment, and budgets are shrinking. We can turn around this trend by giving our youth an alternative to working for others and an alternative of having to move away to get a good job. That alternative is owning their own business and locating in the town where they are educated. Imagine a school in your town that incubates business ideas and business models that will spin out to locate on Main Street or can be run from a home using the community’s local technology, contributing to and growing your local tax base! You need to take responsibility in your community to create the environment for jobs to be created. Government can assist but cannot do it alone.

Gallup identified the reason students drop out of school and disengage in education, they have lost all hope in graduating. They cannot see how the education they are getting will lead them to where they want to go. Students will engage in their education when they see how it will provide them with a good job and a chance for a good life. For many, it is giving them hope that their good job will be created by their own creativity and the realization that they can own their own business.

Innovation itself doesn't create sales. The entrepreneur is the connector, the person who envisions a valuable product or concept and its customer, and then creates a business model and strategy that creates sales and profit.

Entrepreneurship is a long-term commitment that needs the support of the local community, local school district, coupled with state policy support. Clifton states, “If you were to ask me, from all of Gallup’s data and research on entrepreneurship, what will most likely tell you if you are winning or losing your city, my answer would be, ‘5th-12th-graders’ image of and relationship to free enterprise and entrepreneurship.’ If your city doesn't have growing economic energy in your 5th-12th-graders, you will experience neither job creation, nor city GDP growth.”

Entrepreneurship schools in our education system is a must and needs to be a supported strategy by leadership on all policy levels for our healthy, growing, successful future.

Be WUCA! for Schools - Coaching in the Classroom

Our experiences hiring high school and young adult workers chime in with the frustration of other business owners and heads of corporations: the quality of worker coming out of the high schools is not up to standard. Workers need to show up on time and be ready to work. They need to be able to get along and work well with others. There is often an air of entitlement with younger employees. They think that their mere presence is a gift to the business without hard work. So we took the requests for a stronger worker to the classroom to see if WUCA! would make a difference. Coaching in the Classroom (CIC) was created and began as a pilot project in 2009, focusing on 7th – 12th-graders in a rural Iowa school district and a metro alternative school, capitalizing on our more than 28 years’ expertise in rural business and economic development. CIC identifies student's passions, and uses positive self-talk and goal-setting utilized by championship athletes to develop championship students in the classroom.

CIC morphed after its first year in the rural district into a process that addresses students’ behaviors that put them “at-risk” of not graduating on time with their class, as defined by the Iowa Department of Education.

The Four Criteria

  1. Not being proficient in numeracy and literacy on Iowa Assessments;
  2. Failing at least one class;
  3. Not participating in any school activity; and
  4. Poor attendance and/or habitual tardiness.

If a student has a “check” in two of the four categories, they are considered “at-risk.” This designation doesn’t mean the child has substance abuse problems, any mental deficiencies, or other issues that could label them “at-risk.” It simply means that these behaviors are red flags – indicators that a student is developing habits that aren’t good for their academic and personal success in life.

Recognizing that these students will likely remain in their communities as employees and business owners after graduation, CIC connects these “at-risk” criteria to the behaviors employers require in employees that impact a workforce: show up on time. Be a lifelong learner and remember your lessons. Participate with others. Do “A”-quality work and turn it in on time.

The reality of our classrooms today is that our students are being taught core fundamentals, but our educational system, government mandates, and lack of solid parenting don’t allow time or staff to help them bridge the gap between school learning and applicability to the workforce once they leave school.

Coaching in the Classroom believes that all students will succeed when their passions, purpose, and goals align with their personal and occupational visions. CIC seeks to be the bridge that keeps all students in school through graduation and encourages self-motivation and drive for success in today’s global workforce.

CIC Goals

  • Improve scores of standardized assessments and other examinations.
  • Instill entrepreneurial spirit and skills to help students see the possibility of being local business owners and leaders.
  • Strengthen the local workforce by reinforcing the relevance of classroom instruction material to their futures.
  • Improve self-esteem of students when they achieve personal success raising scores and feel more hopeful about their future options.
  • Experience positive movement from students on youth surveys that measure students’ sense of security, belonging, and other less tangible but extremely important indicators for success.
  • Improve behavior of students in the community.
  • Improve relationships between students, staff, and faculty in school.
  • Improve relationships between the school, students, and the community.

Due to many factors, rural communities are being forced to look for new ways to sustain their towns and school districts. In this ever-evolving environment, the area workforce is changing from a blend of white- and blue-collar workers to a more dominant blue collar workforce, often resulting in more college-educated children choosing to look in metropolitan areas for work. The students who remain in their home area are more likely students for whom school was a more challenging and less satisfying experience.

These are the fine, bright people who, sooner or later, will likely become mayors and run the communities, city councils, school boards, churches, and civic organizations, owning businesses within the community.

In addition to in-class presentations, discussions, and field trips, CIC can specifically link students with businesses of interest to their identified passions. Communities, especially those in rural areas, need to aggressively integrate these students to pursue business succession and workforce improvement strategies in the area to increase population and school enrollment.

CIC includes real-life stories about roles and expectations as employees compared to how their employers view them. For example, students learn that tattoos, piercings, and texting on the job they feel are personal expressions and rights can affect their hirability and longevity at a business.

We set in place individual academic, extracurricular, and work-related steps to identify how to make life vision become reality. Sometimes this includes self-reflection and that is really, really tough for this population of students. Heck, most people don’t reflect because we often don’t like what we see, but it’s necessary for growth. It’s a valuable tool. So we include exercises that require them to glimpse into themselves and what they want. We encourage that they deserve what they dream. And that often requires changing their behaviors.

Involvement of the local businesses to strengthen the workforce can take place through relevant speakers to the classes, identifying gaps in businesses needed by the community, how students can look to fill the gaps, and understand how their high school learning will impact their future goals. It also takes the community to want to reach out to the students to welcome, engage, and recognize the talents they have to offer. Plus, community members need enthusiasm and patience to teach students the skills they need to learn.

In addition to all the activities and exercises included in CIC, we have encouraged students by

  • Telling them the criteria by which they have been measured since kindergarten. The mere knowledge of this “list” has been a revelation.
  • Telling them how to get off “the list” and that the ability to do so is completely within their power.
  • Helping them understand that their school attendance, classroom performance, attitude, and how they apply themselves at school matters to their ability to graduate and to future employment.
  • Ending every single class, and calling often through the halls, the single most important message from Coaching in the Classroom: make good choices. It hasn’t made us popular, but we’re known for it!

Results

  • Within months of CIC’s inception, students sent to the principal’s office for misbehavior was down more than 50 percent.
  • Students recognize that classroom work in core areas has direct impact on their future either in further education, enlisting in the military, or by remaining in or near their hometown and joining the workforce.
  • Student population considered “at-risk” has decreased from 41 to 12.3 percent.
  • The 2009 Freshman class set a goal for 100% of them to graduate on time and together. In 2013, they achieved the goal.

By identifying passions and aspirations with all students early in their school careers and helping them determine the steps to make their goals reality, students are more focused, better-behaved, and satisfied in high school, and better prepared whether they pursue a military career, go to college, or join the workforce upon graduation.

Creating a Be WUCA! Student to be Successful

Creating a Be WUCA! Student

5 Ways to “A’s”

From Average to Outstanding

 Students come in all different sizes, personalities, abilities, and interests. There is not a person on this planet that learns the same way and gets the same results. We should treat each student as an individual and help them create the life of their dreams.

In the business world, where many students end up, there are certain things that you can do that will help you be successful. But we don't teach them in school.

Why not. If certain elements are discovered that assist people to be successful, wouldn't you think that schools would want to practice the same thing to make their students successful.As in life, we have laid-out five areas and steps for creating a Be WUCA! student. Steps that will assist your student to strive from average to outstanding.

Goal-Setting for Motivation and Self-Confidence

  • Decide your goals
  • Set your goals effectively
  • Achieve your goals and feedback
  • Build self-confidence

Imagery and Simulation – Practice in Your Mind

  • How you should use visioning
  • Make your efforts better with visioning
  • Learn to use visioning
  • Improve through observation

Focus – How to Achieve Concentration

  • How to practice to concentrate in performance
  • Improve your focus
  • How to improve your moods
  • Learn to control distractions
  • How to manage stress
    • Symptoms of stress
    • “Psyching Up”
    • Stress management techniques

Bring it all Together

  • Decide what you want
  • Your pre-event routine
  • Perform at your best
  • Your refocusing plan

Evaluate your efforts

Checking progress and adjusting all along the way. Doing what works for the student not the teacher is all about the student learning how they personally work to become successful.

The traits that they will learn using this process will be the traits that they will use for the rest of their lives in whatever they do.

If you have a student that is having some trouble or want to become a better student, contact us. We would love to help.

Nobody should have to struggle to be successful. Learn early and learn in a exciting environment.

Learn how to become a Be WUCA! student, from average to outstanding.

 

Coaching in the Classroom - students at risk?

If you have a student in an Iowa public school, you'll be interested in following what we do with Coaching in the Classroom (CIC). If you don't live in Iowa, CIC concepts work anywhere! We have begun our third year working with 7th - 12th-graders in the Coon Rapids-Bayard School District. We'll use this CIC blog to give a weekly update of our activities, giving you conversation starters to consider implementing in your own homes with your own families and we bet you learn something about each other in the process!

Let's start with some basic info.

When a child begins kindergarten in Iowa, full of life, energy, ideas, and attitude, the school district, under direction from the Iowa Department of Education, begins to track their behaviors. Behaviors that we use from the DE are these: if students are tardy to school and/or class, have low scores on standardized tests like Iowa Test of Basic Skills, are failing any classes, and are not participating in extracurricular activities. If a student meets any two of these four criteria, the local school district and the DE consider them "at-risk" of not graduating on time with their class.

In the CR-B district, to uphold their mission to educate all students, high school students with at least two criteria become students of Coaching in the Classroom, where they have the opportunity to learn a host of concepts not regularly found in general classroom settings. We know that many students with whom we work are more "creative" in school, and tend to have a more difficult time being a successful student. They likely will be the students who either attend a two-year trade or community college program, or enter the workforce upon graduating from high school. These students will likely run our towns in rural areas someday. To encourage and engage them, CIC teaches workplace and social skills, leadership behaviors, character development, positive communication, and citizenship, expecting that they will be future mayors, sit on school boards, church committees, city councils and boards of supervisors.

Two critical things to keep in mind:

  • the local school district is not punishing the student by keeping track of them and their behaviors. In fact, watching students is an excellent way to encourage them to take school more seriously and encourage them to try new things.
  • whether or not a student is considered "at-risk" is completely within their own power to change. All that needs to be done is get to school and class on time. Take tests seriously and do their best. Study hard so they pass all their classes. Sign up for an activity to learn some teamwork or new skills. School officials look at behaviors each semester and if a student has changed their own behavior so that DE criteria no longer pertains to them, they are off the "at-risk" list.

Check with your school's office to see how your child measures up. Then take the opportunity to shape some successful behaviors with your student. If you need some help, let us know!

Have a Be WUCA!(c) week!